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While aerial drones are everywhere, they are limited to making contributions at a distance. The SupeRSquad (Supervised Robotic Squadron) mission envisions a world where aerial drones, either independently or teamed with ground-based robots, are trusted to autonomously fly with enough positional precision to make contact with assets. And do so in environments deprived of GPS.

Imagine you could trust a drone to autonomously:

  • Fly in an aircraft hangar and land on an engine to deploy a small robotic crawler to perform an in-situ inspection
  • Ascend a wind turbine and make contact inspection with a blade after a lightning strike
  • Deploy an array of sensors across assets at a power plant
Indoor Drone Flight


Key demonstrations:

  • May: Autonomous flight using motion capture IR camera localization system. This system works by illuminating the area with Infra-Red (IR) light, detecting the location of the retroreflectors located on the drone, and tracking it through the space
  • August: "Trusted Autonomy" demonstrated by having a safety co-processor monitoring the location of a drone while in flight to ensure it stays within safe parameters. If the drone goes out of a keep out area of the room, the system takes over from the pilot (either autopilot or human) and forces the drone to land
  • October: Flight demonstration with Virtual Reality “puck”, maintaining same autonomy and fidelity at a fraction of the cost. This uses COTS hardware made low cost by the gaming community for VR, to enable something entirely different: drone flight in physical reality
  • February 2019: Demonstration of UAV-UGV teaming to perform a coordinated flight and motion in a GPS-Denied environment. With the position information provided by the UGV’s localization system, the UAV was commanded to navigate along a set of pre-planned waypoints, before landing on the initial take-off location (see video below). 


Project Impact

This mission allowed us to rapidly test multiple localization systems as well as develop multi-robot collaboration capabilities. These will enable drone use in both new environments as well as in existing environments with greater accuracy. In turn, this opens up new opportunities for the expanded use of drones in inspection, maintenance and repair operations.

Media Highlights
Project roadmap

The team focused on implementing and evaluating localization systems enabling autonomous indoor drone flight demonstrations

  1. Roadmap image
    May 2018

    Autonomous flight- Motion Capture System

  2. Roadmap image

    Trusted Autonomy demonstration

    Aug 2018
  3. Roadmap image
    Oct 2018

    Autonomous flight- VR tracking system

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    UAV-UGV teaming

    Feb 2019
  • Our Expertise

    Capabilities utilized for SupeRSquad project

  • Software Development

    Innovating software solutions in alignment with Agile & FastWorks principles to aid business digital transformation journeys

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  • High Assurance Systems

    Enabling the design, development, and verification of safety critical infrastructure

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  • Embedded Computing

    Integrating computation with physical processes to create the joint optimization of algorithms, software and hardware

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  • Autonomy

    Developing intelligent robotic systems by integrating robot perception, learning, and motion planning

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